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There I was: TCN duty

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rebecca Brann
  • 6th Dental Squadron
Late last year, I was tasked to deploy as an escort for third-country nationals. TCNs are civilian personnel who are utilized to help the military accomplish its mission at deployed locations. I had just returned from leave when I was informed I would deploy. When I was first tasked, I only had a few weeks to out-process. I was slated to attend Airmen Leadership School before I deployed and then had to accomplish some training and out-processing.

When the day came for me to leave, I was both excited and nervous at the same time. This was my first deployment and I had no idea what to expect from it. I started the long journey and had some enjoyable times on the way to my deployment site. My first stop was in Norfolk, Va. I was very fortunate to have a stop there because my family lives close to the area. Luckily, I was able to have dinner with them and say goodbye before continuing on my journey. I then had a short stop at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and finally traveled to Southwest Asia to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing.

My job was to make sure there weren't any security issues amongst the TCNs and prevent any harm to our forces. I deployed with a large group of people. We were all learning together what our new job for the next six months would be. Soon, I realized how important my job was going to be for the base. I had no idea that without TCN escorts, the construction on base would not progress and be what it is today.

Every morning we would pick up our TCNs from a specified location and bring them to the construction site. At the sites, the TCNs we escorted were constructing warehouses and buildings, as well as installing safety and security devices such as fire alarms. They were also setting up fences at various locations around the base.

It was amazing to see how the workers could turn a vacant, empty field into more than 30 buildings with sidewalks and plumbing in only a few months' time.

Prior to that construction, our military members had to sleep in tents when transitioning to the base. Now they are able to enjoy hardened facilities. During my tenure, I was able to see them take the last tent down on the base.

Without my team being there, all the construction would not have progressed as efficiently as it did. We did work long hours and some of the members of my team had ups and downs, but it caused us to really get to know one another to bond as a resilient team and really understand how people from different backgrounds and specialties operate. We all became very close and helped each other through the deployment like a family. I learned the true meaning of being a wingman on my deployment.

Most of the TCNs were from different countries from around the world and were there to earn money to send back to their families. Many were skilled in their jobs but didn't have the resources to go anywhere else for work. This knowledge made me realize how lucky I am to come from a country where I am given the bountiful opportunities to excel at work or in education.

My deployment wasn't totally all work and no play. On my days off I was able to leave the base and experience the city of Doha, the capital of Qatar. The city offered amazing foods and great shopping. The force support squadron personnel did a fantastic job ensuring we had activities to keep us busy. They organized trips, such as deep sea fishing, water sports and the trip that I went on, Arabian Adventures! We went off-roading on the sand dunes, rode camels and even sun bathed on the Persian Gulf.

So in the end, I was able to learn about other Air Force specialties, immerse myself in an exotic culture and meet new friends. It was a fantastic experience-one I will never forget!